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OUTDOOR NOTEBOOK: DNR to fly deer and elk surveys

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hunting Grand Forks, 58203
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

The Department of Natural Resources soon will be flying its annual aerial surveys for the Kittson County and Grygla, Minn., elk herds, the DNR reported.

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The DNR last winter tallied 28 elk near Grygla, down from 40 during the previous survey in 2010. Last year's count was below the DNR's management goal, which calls for a pre-calving population of 33 to 38 elk, and so the agency last fall didn't offer an elk season near Grygla.

The Kittson County herd last winter numbered an estimated 13 bulls and 15 cows or calves in the "Kittson Central" hunting zone near Lancaster, Minn., while a separate herd southeast of Lancaster was comprised of four bulls, nine cows and four calves. A third herd in the Caribou area of northeast Kittson County ranges between Minnesota and Manitoba and numbers about 100 animals.

The Kittson County numbers were within the DNR's management guidelines.

Pending suitable snow cover, the DNR also plans to fly white-tailed deer population surveys through March in central and southeast Minnesota.

"In the transition zone between agricultural and forested lands, which generally stretches from the northwest to southeast across Minnesota, we use aerial surveys to recalibrate the deer population model," said Gino D'Angelo, farmland deer project leader for the DNR in Madelia, Minn. "These survey flights help us make decisions on deer permit area designations that achieve our population goals."

DNR pilots will fly low-level helicopter surveys in 18 deer permit areas during daylight hours at an altitude of approximately 200 feet.

Areas targeted to be flown include deer permit areas 214, 215, 218, 219, 221, 222, 223, 229, 239 and 241 in Becker, Benton, Clay, Hubbard, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wilkin and Wright counties. The DNR also plans to fly permit areas 341-343 and 345-349 in Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties.

-- Herald staff report

MDHA gives shout-out to EGF chapter's efforts

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association recently gave a shout-out to the Min-Dak Border Chapter of the MDHA for the chapter's efforts on behalf of deer and hunting.

The East Grand Forks-based MDHA chapter is "all about hunting," the parent group said in a news release. "But that doesn't mean the community isn't benefiting greatly from their activities as well."

MDHA cited such chapter activities as:

• Annual fundraisers, in which proceeds go directly back to the community, through the chapter's banquet and programs such as Hides for Habitat.

• Actively supporting educational programs such as East Grand Forks Central Middle School's Outdoors Club with both money and equipment.

• Sending kids to Forkhorn Camp to earn their Firearm Safety Certificate and learn about hunting and the outdoors.

• Sponsoring firearm safety courses in the area for more than 20 years.

• Helping to finance the annual trip about 120 seventh-graders from Central and Sacred Heart middle schools take to Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in northeast Minnesota.

• Partnering with the Options Interstate Center for Independent Living to provide hunting opportunities for disabled hunters.

• Providing money and equipment to the East Grand Forks Police Department to establish a bike patrol on the Greenway along the Red and Red Lake rivers.

"This direct community connection is very important to us," said Loren Abel, president of the Min-Dak Border MDHA chapter. "We want to continue to partner with local groups to provide people with hunting and outdoor opportunities that otherwise may not be available to them, and to make our city safer.

"If we can help with some of those kinds of programs, that's what we're all about."

MDHA funding also stays in Minnesota, Abel said, providing direct benefit to communities.

• Info: mndeerhunters.com.

-- Herald staff report

Bill proposes hike in duck stamp price

Four Democratic senators recently introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate to increase the price of the federal duck stamp to $25. The current price of $15 was set more than 20 years ago, in 1991.

The price of the federal duck stamp has been raised only seven times in the program's history, with the last increase bringing the price to $15 in 1991. Yet the value of the duck stamp has decreased by 40 percent as the price of land has tripled.

Introducing the bill were Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; and Chris Coons, D-Delaware.

Since its enactment in 1934, the federal duck stamp program has protected more than 6 million acres of wetlands -- an area the size of Vermont -- through expenditures of more than $750 million. That has contributed to the conservation of more than 2.5 million acres in the Prairie Pothole Region, including the protection of 7,000 waterfowl production areas totaling 675,000 acres.

-- Herald staff report

Did you know?

• Pheasants Forever and its quail division, Quail Forever, has set an all-time membership record with 141,314 active members across the United States and Canada, the national nonprofit conservation group said.

• Minnesotans age 16 or older can try ice fishing or spear fishing without a license Jan. 18-20 if they take someone younger than 16 fishing during Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend, the DNR said.

• The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently honored conservation biologist Bruce Kreft with the agency's Director's Award for professional excellence. Kreft was honored for his involvement with the Red River diversion project, Minot flood control, Missouri River dredging and stabilization, wetland drainage, wildlife crossings and water withdrawals from lakes and reservoirs.

• Brian Prince, wildlife biologist for Game and Fish in Devils Lake, was recognized with a Special Projects award from the agency for his work on behalf of enhancing public land opportunities in northeast North Dakota.

-- Compiled by Brad Dokken

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Grand Forks Herald (701) 780-1123 customer support
Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 
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